Domestic Violence: Restraining Orders

If you are ever physically assaulted by your partner or spouse or reasonably believe you could be, the first thing to do is contact emergency services and get out of the situation as quickly as you can. Domestic violence is a serious crime and it can leave more than just physical scars, especially if your children are present and witnessing it between their parents. Once you have removed yourself from the situation, report the incident to the police. Not filing reports against the perpetrator can make it more difficult for you to prove your case later.

At The Burnham Law Firm, we have worked on many divorce cases where domestic violence has occurred and the perpetrator has been charged. We have represented victims in the criminal proceedings so they understand what is happening and have someone to advocate for them. This experience also makes us uniquely positioned to make sure the serious issue of domestic violence is reflected in the divorce proceedings, where it is also relevant.

 

A “no fault” state

While Colorado is a “no fault” state – one spouse does not have to prove another spouse did something wrong to get divorced – there are some exceptions when a divorce involves or results from domestic violence in this state. Colorado laws offer more protection for domestic violence victims during divorce proceedings and also recognize that victims may need additional financial assistance to get back on their feet. Allegations of domestic violence also must be investigated before any parental responsibilities of the children are decided. Having an attorney who is experienced in the criminal aspect of domestic violence is vital as he or she is able to fully understand how those criminal charges will interplay in the divorce proceedings.

Restraining orders are for your protection

Your safety is our top priority. If you do not have a criminal restraining order in place against your domestic abuser, we start the process to get you a permanent restraining order. This starts with a Temporary Civil Protection Order (TRO). Under Colorado laws, this order may be granted to prevent assault or threatened physical harm, prevent instances of domestic abuse, prevent stalking and more.

Speak to your attorney about getting a TRO if you have any concerns about your safety or the safety of your children. Most courts will issue these orders within 24 hours. Once the paperwork is filed, you will have to go in front of the judge and answer questions about your situation, after which he or she will either grant or deny the order. After you receive the order, put your original copy in a secure place and carry a photocopy with you at all times. If the person the order is restraining violates its terms, you can call the police and provide a copy of the order when they respond.

A TRO also has a hearing date and time included in it for the decision on a Permanent Protection Order (PPO). At this hearing, the defendant has the chance to tell the court why the temporary order should not be made into a permanent one. It is imperative that you attend this hearing in person. If you are unable to make the date and time listed, speak to your attorney, as the hearing can sometimes be rescheduled.

It’s important to note that in emergency situations, the Emergency Protection Order (EPO) is an option. This type of order is issued by a judge and usually asked for by a member of law enforcement during non-business hours. An EPO often is limited to three days or less, giving the victim time to go to court and obtain a TRO.

It’s also important to note that restraining orders issued by a civil court still carry penalties, just as the orders from criminal courts do. This means that if your abuser has violated the terms of the civil order, he or she can still be sent to jail. Regardless of the situation, if your abuser has violated the order, you need to call the police. Domestic violence cases can be very complex emotionally, so you must remember to always put the safety of yourself and your children above everything else.

If you need additional support, be sure to contact the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence or the Safe Horizon Victim Assistance Organization. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which is available 24 hours a day every day of the year.

Domestic violence puts you and your family in serious danger. If you are worried about your safety because of your spouse or partner, contact us for help by calling (303) 990-5308 immediately. Your well-being is our top priority, and we will work tirelessly to get you the help that you need to keep yourself and your family safe.